St Helens and Updates

St Helens and Updates

All Over Australia

"NO MORTGAGE NO MOWING" - The Grey Nomad journeys of Keith and Frances Thompson

Above: St Helens from Binalong Bay Road

The town of St Helens is the most Northerly of all the settlements on Tasmania’s East Coast and the place where the Tasman Highway from Launceston meets the Ocean.  A town of around 2000 permanent residents it has many holiday houses in addition and boasts  three Caravan Parks as well as a small ree RV stopover with a 48 hour limit where the Dump Point and town water is also available.

During the Summer season (and other times like School Holidays) the population swells by hundreds with many free camping areas North and South; St Helens also services the small holiday communities of Binalong Bay, Beaumaris and Scamander and therefore has a good range of retail and service businesses.

Two IGA supermarkets, a large Mitre10,  a Reject Shop and Banjo’s Bakery represent the major chains while local stores make up the balance of Pharmacy, Newsagent, Shoes, Gifts, Garage and Tyre Dealer, Auto Spares, and a selection of Cafes and Coffee Shops.  Cecilia Street is the Highway through town and everything else is within a couple of hundred metres.


Back at our house sit we are seeing the days warming up after the recent cold spell, back to 15 or more some days, but we are not quite done with the frost yet as this pic of our Solar Panels show on Tuesday morning; and our neighbour’s paddock where we let the chooks out every morning to join the Geese and three sheep. (The neighbours are here Thursday to Sunday)

We are also seeing a little more bird activity. these are a few from the last couple of weeks – and one of our nocturnal visitors (as well as the pademelons and wallabies that are just too shy to capture on camera so far!)

All Over Australia

“NO MORTGAGE, NO MOWING” – The Grey Nomad Journeys of Keith and Frances Thompson


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Ralph’s Falls and Cash’s Gorge

Ralph’s Falls and Cash’s Gorge

Above: View from Ralph’s Falls Lookout

August 3, 2019

Our next target destination for a short trip was to visit the Victoria Ranges and the walking loop past Cash’s Gorge and Ralph’s Falls, a total of just over an hour’s walk including the side tracks to both lookouts. This area is accessed via the gravel roads through the State Forests from RIngarooma to the North West, or in our case via Pyengana and St Columba Falls Road.  Most of this is good graded road except for a short section of abut 3km when you leave the St Columba Falls road; this is both narrow and steep and one of those roads marked “Not suitable for caravans, trailers or large vehicles”!

Once through to the Mount Victoria State Forest the road widens considerably and the views open up; by this time you are already over 800m above sea level, starting from 120m at our temporary “home”.

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Mount Victoria Range and Forest Reserve

At the start of the walking track is a car park with Shelter, tables and BBQ opposite, and a single toilet; we stopped here for lunch before returning “home” after our walk.

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The walk can be done in either direction and we chose to go anti-clockwise going to Cash’s Gorge first before the majority of the loop. and a much shorter “leg” after  the Falls.  After a short distance through the bush a boardwalk appears which goes for several hundred metres over what is obviously very swampy ground and across a section of Button Grass plain.

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Back into the bush again, but very different from Tasmania’s typical rainforest this is mostly Myrtle forest and native grasses.  Finally, after taking a short side track you arrive at Cash’s Gorge Lookout, the view speaks for itself

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Returning to the main loop takes us along the longest section of the walk to emerge on to a rocky outcrop just before arriving at the short track to Ralph’s Falls Lookout.  The view from the outcrop gives a wider aspect to the valley below than the Lookout itself which is more focused on looking across the gorge to the falls.

View from East Side of Ralphs Falls

View from East Side of Ralphs Falls

Finally we emerge at the falls which get a little “lost” in a background of all the vertical strata f the rock face, but none the less are an impressive drop.

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After completing the walk and lunch we returned the same route (not much alternative) and this is a typical view of some of Tasmania’s “managed” eucalypt forests with a range of plantings probably going back over the last 15 years or more and a recently logged patch as well.

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St Marys and Surrounds

St Marys and Surrounds

Above: Scamander and St Patricks Head, St Marys Pass to the right, from Loila Tier Road;

July 30, 2019

Heading South from St Helens you can detour via the Forestry roads along Loila Tier and the gravel roads reward you with views like this and above; the road continues to the Scamander River or you can descend back to the Highway and emerge in Beaumaris which is directly below this view.

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On our trip to St Marys we detoured first to take a look at the “Gray Mare’s Tail” Waterfall but unfortunately it wasn’t falling! Still a pleasant short walk in the forest at the top of St Marys Pass.

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Gray Mares Tail Lookout, St Marys

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Gray Mares Tail Lookout, St Marys

Our main objective for the day was to climb South Sister, one of two main peaks to the North of the township and the one which carries all the communications towers for the district.  A Four wheel drive track takes you the last (almost) 2km from the gravel forestry road to a small parking area at the base of the Telstra tower and then a rocky path of rough steps, with a handrail, takes you a further 250m to the highest points.  As you climb the summit is in sight and the views open up all around.  The images speak for themselves:

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South Sister Summit

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South Sister View to the East

South Sister View to the East

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South Sister View to the West

South Sister View to the West

South Sister View to the South East

South Sister View to the South East

…. and finally, when approaching St Marys Pass turn off from the South, you get his view of South Sister (the left hand peak) and North Sister:

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South Sister and North Sister from the South

Goulds Country – House Sitting Update

Goulds Country – House Sitting Update

July 20, 2019

Above – last week’s rainbow as the rain cleared away after 65mm of rain for the week.

Here we are with only about 6 weeks left of our house sitting, our owner, Gregor, returns from his Cape York (Portland Roads) property on August 30th.  We have certainly had all of Tasmania’s Winter variations (except snow as we are only 120m above sea level); May was mild and dry, June was definitely frosty month and July has been rain month to date.

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Frosty morning towards the neighbours house

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The frosty mornings did usually lead in to the classic clear blue sky Winter days that Tasmania often offers up and on one of our returns from the Blue Tier this is a view of the centre of Goulds Country as you descend into the valley; after taking the view I turned around to find I was being scrutinised by this great specimen of a horned bovine!

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Our location here is at the Southern extremity of what is officially Goulds Country with the Groom River on our boundary marking the end of the district; the other side of the River is State forest.  With the dry May and wetter July we have seen the river rise as the following images show.

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Groom River in May before rain

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Groom River after rain in July

More views of the groom River at the boundary:

We have not had a lot to do at the property here, mostly it has been to make sure that around 80+ newly planted trees did not suffer from a lack of water in a dry period; we were watering until mid June bu the last month has had good rainfall, we may have to water again by next weekend if it stays dry.  The trees are about half between the caravan and the neighbour the other half on the open side of the house, views in varies directions below:

We are not without wildlife here either, there are Possums, Pademelons and Wallabies around the house and paddocks at night but too elusive to photograph so far!  Birdlife is also varied, but not in big numbers, being Winter. So far we have had Black Cockatoos, Crows (of course!), Honeyeaters, Eastern Rosella, Wattle Birds, Kookaburras, Robins, Fairy Wrens and Sparrows (inevitably)  Let’s not forget the insects and the good old Bumblebee:

Bay of Fires

Bay of Fires

July 13, 2019

The Bay of Fires covers an area from Binalong Bay (centre above), North to Eddystone Point and was named by the French explorer Furneaux when he spotted fires along the shore from the local Aborigines in 1773.  Above is the view along Swimcart Beach, one of several campgrounds along this coast.  A little further to the North are the campgrounds of Cosy Corner North and South along the same stretch of beach (right).

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Cosy Corner North

The coastline here is famous for the Orange colouring of the rocks which is actually a Lichen,

Further North again is Sloop Rock and a small campground on the small point which overlooks Sloop Bay, one of many lagoons and inlets along this whole section of coast.

On the way back we took a short detour into Binalong bay itself which is another of Tasmania’s many communities of holiday shacks and a few retirement homes; there are no retail facilities here as it is only about 8km from St Helens.

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A  few more images from the area:

Harridge Falls

Harridge Falls

July 4, 2019

Harridge Falls is one of Tasmania’s lesser know waterfalls as it has no parking area or formed path to reach it.  Found via a wonderful website , it is located about 6km West of Weldborough and only 200m off the Tasman Highway.  However, to reach the falls you have to find the entry point to an old 4WD track (which is no longer usable due to fallen trees) and then find the entry point to the bush path heading down the hill.  We took a wrong turn first and headed down the old track to find that the walking path was marked quite close to our car!

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Arrow chopped into tree on right and plastic arrow lower to the left mark the start of the path.

The path in places is marked with pink or yellow tape placed by previous walkers, and in other areas you have to follow the path where the ferns have been chopped aside to make way; a couple o times it was a little unclear but a wrong turn will soon pt you into impenetrable bush.  On the way back we did lose the path close to the top but just scrambled p the bank to the highway to find we were only 100m from the car!

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Pink ribbon to mark the way

While only 200m from the highway in a straight line the path is probably about 500m or more as you descend via a few small gullies and a little zig-zagging down the hill.  Finally you come in sight of the Weld River and the falls themselves. You are always aware of the noise from the falls, even back at the highway, especially when we were there as we had a rainy period over the previous week or more.

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Weld River above Harridge Falls

We were unable to get to the bottom of the falls but more intrepid walkers (and younger?) probably cold as I have seen a photograph taken  from below. Keith did venture as far along the side as it was safe to go to get the image at the top but it was all quite spectacular as it was. Below: The view downstream from the top.

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Once again we found many fungi growing along the way and the very intense growth of mosses on the ferns and smaller trees that is typical of Tasmanian Rainforest, here is a selection:

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